Germany’s ruling class is using the NATO war in Ukraine against Russia to aggressively revive militarism at home and abroad. The recent speeches by Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht and Chancellor Olaf Scholz (both SPD) leave no doubt about that.
In a foreign policy keynote speech on September 12, Lambrecht said that Germany must play a leading role not only economically and politically, but also militarily: “Germany’s size, its geographical location, its economic power, in short its weight, make us a leading power, whether we want to or not. Also militarily.”
Seventy-seven years after the fall of Hitler’s Third Reich and the horrific crimes of the Wehrmacht in World War II, Germany should once again be able to operate as a war power, and the German army should be able to wage full-scale wars. “We ourselves need strong, combat-ready armed forces in order to be able to defend ourselves and our alliance in an emergency,” stressed Lambrecht.
On Friday, the Chancellor herself followed up. In a speech at the Bundeswehr Conference in Berlin, Scholz told the assembled military leadership: “As the most populous nation with the greatest economic power and as a country in the middle of the continent, our army must become the cornerstone of conventional army defense in Europe, the best equipped force in Europe .”
Both Lambrecht and Scholz stressed that this meant the complete militarization of German society and politics. “The Bundeswehr in particular will play a more important role in our political thinking and actions in the future,” explained Lambrecht. The time when the Bundeswehr was perceived “exclusively as an actor in crisis operations abroad or in support of civil powers” is over, she said. “The Bundeswehr must again be seen as the central authority of our services of general interest. And every day,” she added.
Scholz praised the establishment of a special fund of 100 billion euros for the Bundeswehr, which he announced in the Bundestag at the end of February. At the same time, he made it clear that the gigantic sum was only the beginning and that the new “foreign policy epoch” he was proclaiming – a euphemism for the return of German militarism to the world stage – encompassed much more.
“The special fund is a reality. My statement that we will continuously increase the defense budget to 2 percent of gross domestic product also applies! You can count on that,” he assured the military. “The Bundeswehr’s capability gaps are large,” but they are in the process of “closing the most urgent of them very quickly,” he said. Priority is given to “combat aircraft, heavy transport helicopters, Eurofighters, the successor to the Marder infantry fighting vehicle, 130 corvettes and 126 frigates”.
Germany needs “planes that can fly, ships that can set sail, soldiers that are optimally equipped for their dangerous tasks,” Scholz growled. “A country of our size, which bears a special responsibility in Europe, must be able to achieve all of this.” Germany also owes it to its “allies in NATO”, he said.
Scholz has clearly outlined the strategy that the ruling class is pursuing in its third takeover of world power. Germany is attempting to organize Europe militarily under his leadership in order to pursue its imperialist interests worldwide. As long as German imperialism cannot (yet) oppose the USA openly, rearmament will take place within the framework of NATO.
Among other things, the Chancellor called for “a European headquarters […] that can lead missions.” Perhaps the “most urgent problem in Europe” is “the completely bewildering number of weapon systems and armaments”. Only the “coordinated development of European capabilities” will lead to “a Europe that is capable of acting. In this context, “the area of air defense is particularly important – coordinated at European level and as a contribution to strengthening the European pillar of NATO.”
Scholz boasted of Germany’s “leading role” in NATO’s war offensive against Russia. “It was precisely because of the significant German contribution of 30,000 troops, 85 aircraft and ships,” he said, “that NATO’s responsiveness and deterrence were drastically increased.” important”.
As a result, “Hundreds of German soldiers are in the Baltic States, in Romania, in Slovakia. Our navy and air force are stepping up patrols in the Baltic Sea and eastern Mediterranean.” This, he said, is “more than reassurance for our eastern allies”. Germany is “ready to assume a leading role in the security of our continent”.
He then impressed his listeners: “Ladies and gentlemen, a new era – that means saying goodbye to old certainties. It means rethinking, also strategically. Within NATO we did this at the Madrid Summit and with the new Strategic Concept. Our fighting power and operational readiness will be significantly increased.”
Scholz preferred not to explain in more detail what NATO’s new strategic concept actually entails: the preparation of a third nuclear world war against Russia and China.
The Madrid document states: “We will, individually and collectively, provide the full range of forces … provide the necessary deterrence and defense, including for high-intensity, multi-dimensional warfare against equivalent competitors possessing nuclear weapons.”
The cost of this madness will be borne by the working class – as cannon fodder in war and in billions in social attacks to fund rearmament. While rapidly rising energy prices and galloping inflation are already plunging millions into poverty, the traffic light government made up of Social Democrats, Liberal Democrats and Greens is planning severe cuts in its current budget draft for 2023. The health budget alone is to be reduced from EUR 64 billion to EUR 22 billion – and that in the midst of an ongoing corona pandemic, which has already led to around 150,000 deaths in Germany alone.
The official propaganda that NATO was merely responding to “Russian aggression” and fighting for freedom, human rights and democracy is a blatant lie.
In fact, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, NATO powers have systematically encircled Russia with the goal of subjugating and dividing the resource-rich country for exploitation by the imperialist powers. Putin’s invasion on February 24, 2022 was a reactionary capitalist regime’s desperate response to NATO’s offensive.
The return of German militarism had long been prepared behind the backs of the population and was publicly announced at the 2014 Munich Security Conference. Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD), as Foreign Minister, declared at the time that Germany was “too big and too strong economically for us to be able to comment on world politics only from the sidelines”.
This megalomaniacal claim was first put into practice a short time later with the pro-Western coup in Ukraine. Even then, the Socialist Equality Party analyzed the historical and political driving forces of the war policy and warned of the enormous consequences of the return of German militarism:
History returns with a vengeance. Almost 70 years after the crimes of the Nazis and their defeat in World War II, the German ruling class is once again assuming the imperialist great power politics of the Kaiserreich and Hitler. The speed of the escalation of war propaganda against Russia is reminiscent of the eve of the First and Second World Wars. In Ukraine, the federal government is cooperating with the Svoboda fascists and the Right Sector, who stand in the tradition of Nazi collaborators in World War II. It uses the country occupied by Germany in both world wars as a base against Russia.
Now these plans are being put into action. Germany and NATO are waging a war in Ukraine against the nuclear power Russia, which they continue to escalate and, following the debacle of the Russian army in northern Ukraine, deliver even more heavy weapons to Kyiv. In the past few days, Germany has announced the additional delivery of several rocket launchers, armored vehicles and four other howitzers from Bundeswehr stocks.
In addition, German politicians and the media are demanding that Ukraine be equipped with Leopard 2 heavy battle tanks. Preparations are underway in the United States for the delivery of missiles that the Ukrainian army can use to attack Russian territory. Although the danger of a nuclear third world war is acute, nobody talks about the possible consequences.
On the contrary, the policy of war and social cuts is being pushed primarily by the nominally “left” parties in the Bundestag. With Scholz, the SPD provided the chancellor and headed the Ministry of Defense with Lambrecht. The Greens head the foreign and economic ministries and are the most aggressive within the government, pushing for heavy arms shipments to Ukraine.
The Left Party is also moving in the same direction. She unreservedly supports the war policy of the federal government and NATO, which the recent controversy surrounding Sahra Wagenknecht underscored. The former parliamentary group leader of the Left Party in the Bundestag is not being attacked because of her outbursts against refugees in the sense of the right-wing extremist Alternative for Germany (AfD), but because she criticizes the war course of NATO against Russia from their point of view of German nationalism.
The Socialist Equality Party is the only party opposed to the war policy and the return of German militarism from the left. Together with its sister parties in the International Committee of the Fourth International, it fights to build a socialist anti-war movement. In doing so, it relies on the enormous opposition in the working class, which is entering into bitter class struggles worldwide, and will not allow the ruling class to plunge the world into a devastating third world war.